The Evelyn Rose

Evelyn Rose off Ardtornish Point. Isometric of scour/debris trail and site.

The Grimsby trawler Evelyn Rose (130 net tonnes) was wrecked on Ardtornish Point in 1954 with the loss of all but two of her crew. (More about the Evelyn Rose, from FLOAT FLeetwood Online Archive of Trawlers).

This wreck lies in deep water, and was rediscovered by Lochaline Dive Centre in 2004 as part of a series of side-scan sonar studies on wreck sites in the Sound (see ‘Searching the Sound’).

The first reported dive on the Evelyn Rose was in 2008 – see the Rebreather World post, for further details.

Built in 1918 as the Admiralty ‘Mersey’ class trawler the ‘William Jackson’, this steamship was no stranger to peril in her 36 year life. In December of 1948 she sprang a leak off Iceland but managed to limp home. The following year she ran aground in the Western Isles and tore a hole in her bow. A few months prior to her loss she went ashore once more on the west coast of Kerrera.


The Second World War saw her under command of Arthur Lewis who made several crossings between Ramsgate and Dunkirk during the evacuation. Once he berthed alongside a burning pier and took off 403 men. On the last trip the Evelyn Rose was so badly damaged that she had to be beached at Ramsgate.


On New Year’s Eve, 1954, at about 01:00, under the command of skipper Dawson, she struck the shore to the north of Ardtornish Point due to her passing the wrong side of the light. Ardtornish Point is low lying and the cliffs a few hundred yards inshore obscured it on the radar screen. This caused the skipper to overestimate the distance to the light and she hit the rocks 15 yards to the north west of the light. She then slipped into deep water and sank within minutes about 100 yards from shore. 12 crewman were lost and 2 were saved. Skipper Dawson was on watch with 2 deckhands but the rest of the crew were turned in

when she struck. As they rushed on deck to launch a boat the trawler’s bow was pointing skyward and she slipped off the rocks and sank in 40 fathoms of water taking all but 2 of her crew with her.

When they got ashore, the two survivors walked 5 miles in bare feet through bogland, taking them 4 hours to reach the nearest village. Two bodies were later recovered from the beach. The skipper’s brother, George Dawson was a deckhand on the Wyre Nab, which was following the Evelyn Rose at the time.

The Wyre Nab avoided the same fate as the Evelyn Rose because she had been forced to take a different route after the boats radar had broken. It was deemed safer for them to sail out past Oban instead.

The site of the Evelyn Rose was discovered in 2004. Underwater scans showed a scar on the seabed and this indicated that the vessel slid as she went down.

The Evelyn Rose has been dived by one team since its discovery in 2004. Obviously at such a dive is exclusively in the realm of tech divers who can dive to 90+ metres.

The depth of the wreck currently precludes archaeological survey, other than by ROV. Multibeam sonar imagery has recorded a linear mound (measuring about 40m long by 8m broad) on the seabed; the sidescan trace suggests an alternative length of between 35 and 37m. The North East and South West ends of this mound lie at depths of 115m and between 125 and 130m respectively below chart datum.

A linear feature, possibly between 5 and 10m long and `akin to a small mast, appears to rest on the seabed, and is attached to the East side of the wreck. There is an item of debris and a curved track (about 330m long) between the wreck and the foot of the cliff. Another probable piece of debris lies at around 97m below chart datum. Its position some 10 or 15m from the indented track suggests that this is debris from the wreck before careering down the steep slope to come to rest some 330m offshore.